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Mekong, Ganges on the same boat

THUA THIEN-HUE, June 13 — Climate change threats to the cultural heritage of the Mekong and Ganges basins were discussed at a two-day international conference that ended on Monday in the central city of Hue.

Scientists from nine Asian and European countries presented papers on various aspects of these challenges as well as the roles local museums play in meeting them.

Organized by Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology and the Viet Nam Institute of Culture and Art Studies, the conference seeks to highlight the negative impacts that climate change induced natural disasters are having on the environment, the people's living standards and local cultures.

Participants affirmed that many cultural heritages have been lost to storms, floods, droughts and the rising sea levels already.

Bharat Raj Rawat of the National Museum of Katmandu, Nepal, said museums have respond to the challenges because they are "closely connected" with environmental education.

Dang Van Bai of the Council of National Cultural Heritage, Viet Nam, said climate change was one of the greatest dangers facing mankind in the 21st century. He said apart from the material threats to "visible infrastructure and the lives of human beings," it can greatly damage cultural heritages, especially in countries like Viet Nam with its "local coastline, high and dangerous mountains and severe weather conditions.

"The countries of the Asia-Pacific region are likely to face tremendous challenges in the age of global climate change. In this region there are many ancient civilizations that have sites of great historical significance and protecting these sites in the future will become an increasingly difficult tasks," said Ying Zhu from University of South Australia.

Truong Quoc Binh of the Viet Nam Institute of Culture and Art Studies, said it has been recognized that Viet Nam is one of the countries most affected by global warming, with high risks of storms, floods and rising sea levels. The most severe of these impacts will be felt in coastal areas in general and the Mekong Delta in particular, he said.

"Climate change will not only affect the lives of most people but will also destroy cultural and historical sites, drown archeological relics and damage intangible cultural heritages as well," said Binh.

Other speakers highlighted the impact of man-made changes and perspectives.

Rohan D'Souza of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, spoke of the colonial period during which a "hydraulic transition was effectively premised on the attempted separation of land and water as two distinct non-overlapping natural domains" with far reaching implications. (PNA/VNS) DCT/ebp

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